25 YEARS AGO

Record Observer - - Opinion -

A gang of nervy thieves “peeled” the safe and es­caped with nearly $136 cash early Satur­day morn­ing at the Del­marva Power and Light Com­pany’s new, bril­liantly lighted show­room and of­fice at Gra­sonville.

The build­ing that sits di­rectly on Route 301 and is well-lighted both from the out­side and in­side through­out the night, was en­tered by break­ing the glass on a rear door.

State po­lice said Robert Rams­burg, of Ch­ester, the line fore­man, told them he came to the of­fice about 8:45 a.m. Satur­day for some tools. Or­di­nar­ily the build­ing is not open on Satur­day. He ween into the garage por­tion and found the safe on its back with the door ripped off.

Troop­ers First Class R.E. Wil­liams and Wal­lace Mow­bray “dusted” the safe and the firm’s large line truck for fin­ger­prints.

The thieves ap­par­ently rolled the 30x48inch safe on its wheels from a front fil­ing closet into the garage part of the build­ing and then ob­tained tools from the firm’s own truck to smashed the safe door off.

*** The Kent Is­land Shop­ping Center and ad­join­ing 50-room mo­tel on Route 301 and 50, just east of the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay Bridge, has been pur­chased by a Bal­ti­more realty com­pany this week for a price re­ported “in ex­cess” of $300,000.

At the same time it was an­nounced that two other very large land trans­ac­tions are in the process of be­ing fi­nal­ized on Kent Is­land. The Kent­morr ma­rina and sub­di­vi­sion is be­ing sold and some 150 acres of Tower Gar­dens on the Bay, an­other sub­di­vi­sion, has been sold.

The Lephil Realty Com­pany, the Bal­ti­more firm that has pur­chased the shop­ping center, also re­ported that they are, in turn, sell­ing the mo­tel to Dou­glas Pin­dell, a mo­tel owner near Lau­rel, Md.

The mo­tel, which in­cludes two restau­rants in the of­fice build­ing por­tion, has been va­cant since Jan­uary 1962.

The late David M. Ni­chols built the mil­lion-dol­lar shop­ping center com­plex fol­low­ing the open­ing of the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay Bridge in 1952.

* * * John Bernard Keiler Jr., 22, a con­struc­tion equip­ment oiler from Bal­ti­more, re­ceived a 10-year sen­tence in the Mary­land Pen­i­ten­tiar y from Queen Anne’s County Cir­cuit Court Judge Thomas J. Keat­ing Jr. for hir­ing a man to as­sault a union leader in Au­gust 1965.

Keiler was found guilty on Sept. 21 on a charge of so­lic­it­ing an as­sault on Car vel Ken­neth Hat­field, a brick­lay­ers union of­fi­cial who was found shot to death in the door­way of his apart­ment build­ing in Bal­ti­more on Aug. 26, 1965. The man who po­lice be­lieve com­mit­ted the mur­der was later found dead in a wooded sec­tion of Bal­ti­more County.

Eight Mex­i­can women have filed a fed­eral suit against a Ch­ester seafood com­pany, charg­ing that they worked in con­di­tions re­sem­bling in­den­tured ser vi­tude.

The suit, filed in U.S. Dis­trict Court in Bal­ti­more Wed­nes­day, charges that David W. Wehrs Seafood Inc. paid them less than min­i­mum wage, mis­rep­re­sented work­ing and liv­ing con­di­tions, paid them less than min­i­mum wage, mis­rep­re­sented work­ing and liv­ing con­di­tions, placed them in sub­stan­dard hous­ing and iso­lated them from Amer­i­can work­ers. Also named as de­fen­dants are the North Carolina com­pany and the peo­ple who re­cruited the work­ers in Mex­ico.

The plain­tiffs in the lat­est suit were among 20 women re­cruited by Wehrs from their homes in Si­naloa, Mex­ico, to pick crab­meat at its plant in Ch­ester, said their at­tor­ney M. Christina Gu­tier­rez. In­stead of be­ing paid by the hour, they were paid by the pound, mak­ing be­tween $1.53 and $2.46 an hour … and did not re­ceive over­time, even though they worked 50 to 60 hours a week, the suit said.

The women were forced to sign their pay­checks and re­turn them to the com­pany, which de­ducted rent and the cost of trans­port­ing them by bus from Mex­ico, the suit said.

* * * More than a year after lit­i­ga­tion to re­move the sub­stan­dard des­ig­na­tion off 31 homes in Cen­tre­ville, plain­tiffs and de­fen­dants have set­tled the case, but seem to be right back where they started.

In the law­suit filed against the town in Au­gust 1990, the plain­tiffs, some of the own­ers of the Lib­erty Street houses, claimed the town vi­o­lated the fed­eral civil rights laws which pro­hibit race-based dis­crim­i­na­tion in prop­erty re­la­tions. Most of the homes on the list were owned or leased by blacks.

The suit, set­tled two weeks ago, states that the town will re­move the sub­stan­dard hous­ing des­ig­na­tion from the houses and delete all the state­ments in the Com­pre­hen­sive Plan that the plain­tiffs’ prop­er­ties are “no longer suit­able for res­i­den­tial use.”

* * * Po­lice are mak­ing more drugs ar­rests than ever be­fore in Queen Anne’s County, but fewer cases are re­sult­ing in con­vic­tions.

Ac­cord­ing to a sur­vey of court doc­u­ments, the con­vic­tion rate on drug cases fell from 74 per­cent last year to 42 per­cent this year in both dis­trict and cir­cuit court.

In ad­di­tion, 41 per­cent of the cases were dropped this year com­pared to only 17 per­cent last year. The num­ber of drug cases did in­crease though, from 95 last year to 112 so far this year.

No one can point to a spe­cific rea­son why the con­vic­tion rate has dropped off re­cently, but ev­ery­one seems to agree that it will im­prove as the re­la­tion­ship be­tween pros­e­cu­tors and po­lice im­proves.

* * * Cats may have nine lives, but two dogs got new leases on life be­cause of the Queen­stown Fire Depart­ment.

An­i­mal tech­ni­cian Cathy Jenk­ins and Dr. Steve Har­ris were help­ing a Brit­tany spaniel, Robin, de­liver pup­pies at the Queen­stown Vet­eri­nary Hos­pi­tal when they smelled smoke last Wed­nes­day evening. A clothes dryer had over­heated and after Dr. Har­ris called the fire com­pany, they just started “grab­bing an­i­mals.”

“I’m pos­i­tively im­pressed with the Queen­stown Fire Depart­ment,” Jenk­ins said. “They were here within two min­utes and did a won­der­ful job,” she said. They even saved a dog’s life. As­sis­tant Chief Frank Rus­sum and vol­un­teer fire­fighter Ge­off Wil­lis were search­ing the area when they dis­cov­ered Lark, a fox hound.

“There was so much smoke we could barely see him, I think we just saw his paws,” said Rus­sum. “But when we opened that door, he was ready to come out,” he said.

Rus­sum said the dog was in one of the bot­tom ken­nels.

“I don’t mind sav­ing a dog’s life, but if it had been a snake, it might have had to fend for him­self,” Rus­sum said with a laugh.

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